We haven’t seen any bears on this trip, nor other predators that we could have come close to. Nonetheless, we were amazed by the wildlife we were able to witness throughout North America.
Our first encounter with the American wildlife was still somewhat artificial and gruesome, in the American Museum of Natural History with its incredible collection of padded animals from actually all over the world.
The real wildlife started with the coyote which we heard howling in the night on Bainbridge Island, and deer in the front yard. It continued with the humpback whales in the Puget Sound under Captain Rob’s guidance, an impressive experience on which I have been reporting already.
Omnipresent are the eagles in this country which came particularly close on the Olympic Peninsula, especially the American bald eagles with their white heads and tails, sailing above our heads like crows.
I remember one particular scene, where a bald eagle landed on the beach about 30 feet away from me, near the pools created during low tide, probably searching for seafood. Only a moment after the eagle had started to peck around here and there, two crows appeared and attacked the eagle, chasing him away from what I presume were their feeding grounds. It was amazing to see how the two much smaller birds mastered this much bigger contender, as they were much more agile in the air than him. He eventually landed again another 200 feet away closer by the seashore and one of the crows landed just opposite of him. They sat there one or two feet apart, facing one another, until the crow started to peck on the sand between them. It looked as though the crow was saying: “You can look for food here, buddy”. And then it flew away, leaving the eagle all by himself where he was. That all happened within a minute or maybe two. I snuck up to the eagle (as far as this is possible on a flat sandy beach) and took the following shots as he took off.
The sea anemones in Neah Bay were also a new discovery to me. What a feeling when you touch them and they try to catch your finger.
Seals were a predominant travel companion as well on both the West and the East Coast. They would appear at the beach just 30 to 60 feet away in the water, swimming up and down the beach as if they were enjoying a summer holiday themselves, especially in the Pacific Northwest and on Cape Cod.
Another remarkable scene was a sea otter (mother?) with her two little ones in La Push just outside of a restaurant in the La Push harbor. It was very touching to see how the adult animal tried to keep her offspring together, before they eventually plunged in the water swimming away from shore in a triangular formation, the mother in front, and the little ones left and right of her to the rear, their three heads sticking out of the water.
We have seen wild horses and antelope in Utah and Wyoming which were too hard to catch with the camera. The closest we got to a bear, or rather the traces he had left with his claws in the screen door, was in Colorado. Land’s End in San Francisco offered us a unique sea mammal show with sea otters, playing seals and several humpback whales.
Warnings of the white shark were all around us on Cape Cod. But that was all we saw of him which may not be such a bad thing when you think of it. Impressive was the horseshoe crab, who appears and actually is something like a little dinosaur crab that has been on this planet forever.
And only yesterday, as we took a very small ferry boat from Winter Harbor in Maine to the nearby town of Bar Harbor which wound itself through the fog and countless lobster buoys, we saw porpoise alone or in pairs left and right of the boat in their dolphin like motion coming out of and disappearing into the fog. Quite a mystical appearance.
What really made my heart sing though were the humming birds which we saw in the Pacific Northwest, in Colorado, in San Francisco, and on Lake Michigan. One even flew into Minnie Winnie once, hovering in the sunlight through the open camper door, making the sound of a tiny helicopter, looking around abruptly and then disappearing as suddenly as it had appeared. I did not manage to take any pictures of those fairy tale like little creatures either, but the magic of their unexpected presence is still in my memory.
The wildlife this part of the world has to offer is overwhelming. We hope that it remains and continues to be preserved. And not this way…